Reading out-loud to children is important during the preschool years. Daily reading sparks an interest in books, increases vocabulary, and improves comprehension skills. Here are my top ten favorite children’s books to read in the preschool classroom.
10. A Bad Case of Stripes
By David Shannon
This book is perfect for encouraging students to eat their vegetables. The book is about a girl named Camilla. She refuses to eat Lima beans because she’s afraid her friends will laugh at her for liking them. When she awakes for the first day of school, she is covered in stripes. As the book goes on, she changes shapes and colors. Her parents contact all the professionals to cure her illness. At the end of the book, an older woman shows up at the door who knows she can cure her. The lady gives Camilla Lima beans to eat and she is cured! Now she eats all the Lima beans she wants and doesn’t care what others thing. A great lesson to teach students!
9. Skippyjon Jones
By Judy Schachner
Author Judy Schachner incorporates Spanish vocabulary within this book. The main character, Skippyjon Jones, is a Siamese cat with large ears who thinks he’s a Chihuahua. He lives with his mother Junebug, his three sisters Jezebel, Jillyboo, and Ju Ju Bee. Skippyjon Jones is joined by a group of imaginary Chihuahua friends, Los Chimichangos. Skippyjon Jones walks into his closet and goes on an adventure. Students enjoy looking at the detailed pictures and hearing the Spanish accent. Best part about this book, it is part of series of Skippyjon books and some come with an audio CD.
8. Mrs. McNosh Hangs up her Wash
By Sarah Weeks, pictures by Nadine Bernard Westcott
I like this book because it is a sequencing book that rhymes and has new vocabulary words. Each Monday at dawn, Mrs. Nelly McNosh does a big wash. She then hangs each object on the clothesline to dry. After the book, students list in order what she hangs on the clothesline. Use this FREE follow-up activity on Teachers Pay Teachers.
7. The Hat
By Jan Brett
One of my favorite books to read during the winter months. This story begins with the character Heggie, from Jan Brett’s The Mitten. Hedgie stumbles upon a stocking from a nearby clothesline. He poked his nose in and the stocking gets stuck on his prickles. Every animal he encounters “pokes fun at him”, then runs away. At the end of the story, every animal had gone to get a piece of clothing from the clothesline. As Hedgie heads for his den, he says, “How ridiculous they look, don’t they know animals don’t wear clothes.” This book opens up discussion for not laughing at someone based on what they look like, are wearing, or what they do.
6. It Looked Like Spilt Milk
By Charles G. Shaw
I use this book to teach the sight words like and it. The book is repetitious, “Sometimes it looked like a ____. But it wasn’t a _____”. On each page is a white image shaped like different objects – a rabbit, a bird, a tree, an ice cream cone, a flower, a pig, a birthday cake, a sheep, a Great Horned Owl, a mitten, a squirrel, and an angel. At the end, the image is simply a cloud in the sky. After reading the book, it is fun to bring students outside to look at clouds in the sky and see which objects they see. As a follow-up activity, students then draw that object in his/her journal.
5. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus
By Mo Willems
I was introduced to the author Mo Willems by a Kindergarten parent. Since then, I anxiously await new Mo Willems books. My favorite of his is Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. In the beginning, the bus driver announces he is going to leave for a little while. Then, asks the audience to watch things for him until he returns. Before he leaves, he says, “DON’T let the pigeon drive the bus!” This interactive book is hilarious to students. The pigeon comes along and tries his best to persuade the reader to let him drive the bus. There is also an online story on YouTube.
4. Caps for Sale
By Esphyr Slobodkina
This book is based on an old folktale. The main character is a peddler who walks around town saying, “Caps! Caps for sale! Fifty cents a cap!” On top of his head is a bunch of caps. First, his own checked cap, then a bunch of grey caps, a bunch of brown caps, a bunch of blue caps and finally a bunch of red caps on the very top.
One day, the peddler sits down under a tree to take a nap, with all his wares still on his head. When he awakens, all the caps but his own are gone – stolen by monkeys, who now sit in the tree wearing them. The peddler orders them to return his caps, scolds them, and yells at them, while the monkeys only imitate him. The peddler finally throws down his own cap in disgust – upon which the monkeys throw theirs down as well, right at his feet. He puts the caps back on his head and walks back to town, calling, “Caps! Caps for sale! Fifty cents a cap!”
3. The Little Red Hen
Retold by Rebecca Allen, Illustrated by Bob Ostrom
This book is a spin-off of the old folk tale The Little Red Hen. This version is my favorite. The story is about a cat, a dog, a pig and a little red hen. They lived together in a peaceful barnyard taken care of by the little red hen. No one else would help her. When she finds some grains of wheat, she runs to her friends for help planting the wheat, taking care of the wheat, cutting the wheat, hauling it to the mill, and baking the bread. Neither the pig, the dog, nor the cat would help her. As the bread was cooking, a delicious smell filled the barnyard. The three animals rush to help the little red hen eat the bread. She told them they couldn’t have any because they didn’t help her. This story is a good way to explain taking initiative and having a good work ethic.
2. Country Roads
Adapted and Illustrated by Christopher Canyon
Teaching is my day job, but nothing can replace my passion for country music. I was introduced to this book by a previous co-teacher who knew my love for anything country. John Denver’s Country Roads is a staple country song. The book has vivid pictures which mirror the lyrics. The song paints the picture of travelling to a family reunion through the hills of West Virginia. I use this book to teach students about being proud of their “roots”, family, and the beautiful countryside of America.
1. The Giving Tree
By Shel Silverstein
Teaching is a rewarding profession. I want to be known as a teacher who inspired students to think of others. The Giving Tree is a book about giving to others, even when you think you have nothing left to give. Every day a boy would come to the tree. Each time he went to visit the tree, the boy would eat her apples, swing from her branches, or slide down her trunk. This made the tree very happy. As the boy grew older, he began to want more from the tree until nothing was left except a stump. In the end, the boy was an old man and the stump gave him a place to rest.
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